Saturday, 24 December 2011

Fairfield Association Gives Christmas Present to Lancaster

On Thursday 22nd December the Fairfield Association opened its new nature reserve,  FAUNA,  which is within 10 minutes walk of the railway station and Lancaster City Centre. People are now able to walk  along FAUNA’s new permissive footpath from the northern entrance to Fairfield Orchard (near the bottom of Sunnyside Lane) to the bottom of Cromwell Road (off Aldcliffe Road).

The path runs along one side of the new 15-acre FAUNA nature reserve, which the association has been working on since last Spring.

“We hope that the people of Lancaster will enjoy our Christmas present and use the new path, which is wheelchair-accessible, to watch FAUNA develop," said Oliver Fulton, organiser of the FAUNA project. "There are new ponds and scrapes, which have already started to attract wading birds and waterfowl, and last summer we seeded a field which we are turning back into a wildflower meadow – using seeds and green hay from existing local wildflower meadows. So it will be fascinating to watch the birds move in, and see what comes up in the meadow next spring and summer.”

The FAUNA nature reserve is on land leased at a peppercorn rent to the Fairfield Association for the next 30 years by Lancaster City Council, which is very supportive of the project. The Fairfield Association has raised £140,000 to create Lancaster’s latest nature reserve, which is funded by the City Council, Lancashire County Council, the Lancashire Environmental Fund, Community Spaces (The Big Lottery Fund) and Natural England, with help and advice from the RSPB and Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Local contractors M D Hanafin and Sons of Milnthorpe have done an excellent job on the heavier work in very difficult weather conditions. There will be a more formal opening ceremony in the Spring, when the seats and notice boards are in place.

“Doing all the necessary hedge laying, establishing the ponds and putting in the footpath and fencing in very wet weather has made the area near the path rather muddy in places but the grass will soon grow back," enthuses Andrew Brennand, chair of the association. "We have put in a set of gateposts next to the path at the Fairfield Orchard end of the path, and they will be carved next Spring to match those in the Orchard.

"By then we should also have new information boards in place, a carved gatepost at the Cromwell Road end and some benches for people to sit on and look across the nature reserve.”

FAUNA will be maintained by the Fairfield Association volunteers who already maintain Fairfield Community Orchard and have spent the summer digging ragwort from the FAUNA fields, among other things. Ian Procter, the Volunteers Organiser said:

“We definitely need more volunteers to help us with our work. If you are interested, please phone me on 01524 65670 or email We’re a friendly lot and try hard to make newcomers very welcome.”

Plans for expansion
The Fairfield Association is also trying to buy fields next to FAUNA in order to extend the nature reserve. Mick Short, the Fields Project organiser, said:
“We put in a bid for the fields in September, using money which has been donated or pledged by more than 200 local people. Unfortunately, all the bids, including ours, were turned down by the owners. We are still hoping to buy the fields, as extending FAUNA would be wonderful for Lancaster. They will probably come up for sale again in the Spring. So if new donors or pledgers want to support what we are trying to do and add to the fund we have already created, they can ring me on 01524 63890 or email me at .”

The Fairfield Association will be running its regular wassailing event in Fairfield Orchard on Saturday 14 January, 3-5 pm. There will be a noisy procession starting at 3pm prompt, so bring drums or pans to join in. A bonfire, wassail cup and songs should warm you up after the trees are blessed. The John O'Gaunt Morris troupe will also be dancing.

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